Many of us have heard it said time-and-time again: “there are two things we can count on; death and taxes.” I’ve always found it somewhat humorous that the sentenced is phrased; death and taxes. It had been my understanding for some time that the word “taxes” should come first in that phrase because you can’t pay taxes once you’re dead? How naive I was. The (G)overnment - Big G - will always get theirs. The “estate/inheritance tax” code and laws in this country are embarrassing. I think it’s atrocious that I can work my entire life and be fortunate enough to leave something substantial in the form of money to my children only for the government to tax it in access of 35%, that number will be 55% in 2013. Just a little IRS historical reference and sidebar, under President Bush the taxable amount was 45% after a $2 million allowable credit. Thank you President Bush. The “estate/inheritance tax” In 2010 was repealed by President Obama. He did however throw a bone to all that would have the misfortune of dying in 2012 allowing a credit of $5.12million before being taxed at the rate of 35%. In 2013 the allowable amount will be reduced to $1million with everything over that amount being taxed at the rate of 55%. Thank you President Obama. I know, I know, people that leave money to their children didn’t really earn that money, somebody else did. One last note, states can “piggyback” on the federal estate tax. I think it is important, and extremely humorous, to note that this tax is referred to as the death tax.
I’m going to stop here.
The minute I start to talk about taxes my chest gets tight and my left eye starts to twitch.
Chest is tight; left eye is twitching.
Again, I will stop here.
What I set out to speak upon was the ‘universality’ of certain things in life. I’ve often said we as community of human beings have much more in common than we do not. There are many things that would be considered universal to every human being on earth; birth, joy and pain are just a few. Every person reading this was born to a mother and father. As I mentioned, all of us have experienced joy, and we all have experienced pain. Each one us has dreams and aspirations, and even if we think we don't, we really do. Each and everyone us is currently experiencing a storm, just got out of a storm or one is on the way in our personal or professional lives, or both. We all have flaws and shortcomings, some peoples are more noticeable than others, but in the end we all have them.
And oh yea; death and taxes are universal too.
I also believe that we all have a shared common trait in that each and every one of us was created by God for God.
We were created in His imagine. Scripture states in Genesis 1:27 this truth: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Not only were we created by God, but were created with specific purposes in mind:
“He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” –Ephesians 1:4-7
And though there are many other scriptures I could share supporting my beliefs about creation and purpose, and the fact that there are more universal truths than just taxes and death, such as, the sun rising in the east and it setting in the west, cats hating water and a child needing a parents love, I wanted to focus on three universal questions we should all ask ourselves at some point in our lifetime.
The three questions are; who are you? What do you believe? What is your purpose?
My hope or intent isn’t to produce strong feelings of anxiety if one doesn’t know how to answer these questions. Don’t panic…you are not alone, many don’t. What I think is more troubling than not having an answer for these questions is the fact that many people unwisely spend an entire life never entertaining or asking themselves these questions. Far too many people never find out who they are, what they believe and what their purpose in life is. I believe that to be sad. I believe many people live rough draft versions of what their lives could actually be. I should know I was one of those people for a better part of my adult life that didn’t know who he was, what he believed or what his purpose in life was.
And if I did, for a short time, have answers to those three questions I didn’t have the courage, consistent behavior or commitment to live it out on a daily basis.
The good news is I know the answer to those questions now and just as important, I understand why it is so vital to know these things, and to live these truths, beliefs and purposes out on a daily basis.
Allow me to share.
Who Are You?
Knowing who you are is important. Not knowing who you are can be disastrous. JC Watts, the once famous quarterback at the University of Oklahoma, and past US Congressman said; “that if you’re 99% sure of who you are you’re a 100% lost.” I met Mr. Watts in the St. Louis airport shortly after hearing that statement years ago on a segment on “Focus on the Family” and I went up to him and thanked him for those powerful, and truthful words. I added that I agreed with him, and that I suspect many of us are lost. He went on to thank me for my words of encouragement and agreed his words are an unfortunate truth. Steve Largent, the Hall of Fame wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, and a past US Representative, said some of the same words during his first term on Capitol Hill: “That if you don’t know who you are when you get here (Washington D.C.) that someone will own you by the day’s end.”
Knowing who you are is important.
I've come to the realization that I'm more than my past and future failures, and past and future success. It's important to note that the world would have you believe differently and will tell you that you are wrong. I believe the philosophy that Bill Parcells prescribes to in that you are what your record says you are. I believe that to be true in football, not in life.
My failures have all but destroyed me.
I was the reason for 100% of those failures.
The failures range from short term drug use, to stealing and cheating, to being highly promiscuous. I've failed in marriage twice; financially often. My success have been in the areas of earning a college degree and education (two completely different things), being a team captain and a four year member of Wittenberg's basketball team in the mid eighties and the fact that I've tried to honor my parents my entire life. I've had the privilege to be employed by three fortune 500 companies and FOX TV over the last twenty-six years of my professional career. I've been a number #1 sales rep in different years while at J & J and FOX TV. I have been successful at building strong relationships with my children, with some relationships being stronger than others, and I have been successful at developing strong and sincere friendships with different people, including my first wife, throughout my life. I'm blessed to have some very wonderful friendship and best friends. But, with all of this being said, life to me is more than my success and failures. And though I proudly identify with, understand the importance of, and the recognize the responsibilities that go along with being the son of Jake and Chris Bailey, the brother to Meredith Bailey, the father to Logan, Austin, Bryce, Ryan, Addison and Reese Bailey, and the husband to Rhonda Bailey, I realize, and believe, that I'm more than a son, brother, father, friend and husband. I know this because God tells me so through his word.
What does God's word say about who I am?
"So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith."
"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
"If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise."
"Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father"
"So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir."
God says I'm his son; not a slave. I'm a heir. All this because I choose to believe, believe that he sent his son to die on the cross for me.
Because I have faith.
His word promises me eternal salvation and forgiveness from all my sins. All I have to do is believe and have faith in God, and who he says he is.
Its very simple. Its about faith.
My faith defines who I am. Nothing else does. No failure, success or human opinion defines me unless I give it life and allow it to.
I know who I am
I am who God says I am; I'm his child, I'm his son.
... stop by again tomorrow as I will post part 2 of this 3 part series that will deal with the 2nd question; "what do you believe?"